The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
The highest award conferred by the Philippine government to outstanding Filipino individuals and organizations overseas, the Presidential Awards is a tribute to Filipinos overseas who have dedicated their lives in the service of the Filipino people and who are exemplars of Filipino talent and industry.
On December 8, 2008, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, for the first time organized a pre-awards dinner at the Pan Pacific Manila, so Presidential awardees could have the time to intimately get to know each other. The 31 awardees came from Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, and the US. Since its inception in 1991 through Executive Order No. 498, the Presidential Awards have so far been conferred on 283 Filipino and foreign individuals and organizations overseas.
As a member of the Presidential Awards secretariat, it was an opportunity hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with some of the cream of the crops of the 8.23 million Filipinos living and working outside the Philippines.
Having graduated from the school of hard knocks, Santiago Muzones is now the Commissioner of Human Rights in Jersey City and the President Emeritus of the Iloilo Society of America Foundation. His ardor to help others stem out from his love to his father who passed away when he was still a toddler and his mother who lost her sight when young Santiago was just starting primary school.
Award-winning landscape photographer Carlos Esguerra; and restaurateur Amy Besa, co-owner of the famed Cendrillon in New York, and co-author of the Memories of Philippine Kitchens.
Kind-hearted Dorita Urrata, founder of Children’s Chance CT (an organization providing best medical assistance to children with deformities all over the world), spent her childhood in the Philippines with her family where they were imprisoned at the UST concentration camp during World War II. She said that her family were able to survive then because of her Yaya Ana who brought them food while risking her own life. After Ms. Urrata’s retirement, she put up the foundation and took up children as her cause as a tribute to her Yaya Ana who inspired her to do good to others.
Unabashedly my idol Rico Hizon, the first and only Filipino male anchor of BBC World in Singapore.
For the world of disadvantaged children in the province of Iloilo, Laurence Ligier has proved to be a light in a dark world marred by violence and misfortunes in their young lives. She is actually one of KC Concepcion’s best friends.
For this year’s awardees: Judge your achievements by what you had to give up in order to get it. Be well, continue to do good work, and keep in touch.